We asked 99 burglars 20 questions -- their answers could make you safer

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No matter whether you live in a house or an apartment, we all share at least one concern: making sure someone doesn't break in and steal our possessions.

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So what's the best way to stop a burglar? How about asking one who's serving time for the crime? How about asking 99 of them?

We came up with 20 questions. With the help of the Georgia Department of Corrections, all convicted burglars serving time were given a chance to participate. Nearly 100 responded.

Inmates like David Joy.

“It's easy to break into a house," he explained.

Joy slipped into his dad's Augusta home to steal a gun he would pawn to support his heroin habit. He's clean now.

"I wasn't arrested," he confided. "I was rescued."

But he says he still knows how a burglar thinks. And he wants to make sure you do, too.

“Some people work all their life to accumulate nice things," Joy observed. "And then somebody just comes in and takes it from them. That's not right."

He says the biggest thing you can do: make sure it looks like someone's always home.

“I wouldn't want any confrontation," Joy explained. "I wouldn't want anyone to be home. A burglar doesn't want... they just want money.”

Two-thirds of our respondents said a visible security camera would keep them from breaking in. Sixty percent said lights on in the home would make them think twice about going inside. And another two-thirds said they would not break in if they heard a radio or television inside.

Just remember: Lights... camera... action.

Joy remembers it from scripture.

“It says a thief will stay away from a lit home," he pointed out. "He'll skip around to the dark.”

But he won't always wait until night. Question 5 – what time did you prefer to break in? Only 39 percent said evening or overnight. 61 percent said early morning or afternoon.

They just want to make sure you're not home.

And once they know the house is empty, how do they typically get in? That's Question Number 2. More than half -- 53 percent -- got in through an unlocked window or door.

David Joy sneaked into his father's house with a key, just like another 13 percent of our survey takers.

Once inside, where do most burglars go to search for stuff to steal? That's Question 4 – the most popular – at 30 percent -- is a bedside drawer.

“Most people keep stuff in the bedroom," Joy agreed. "Money in the bedroom."

You may think burglaries are out of control in Georgia, largely because of what some believe is actually bringing the numbers way down: constant videos on local news courtesy of cheaper home security cameras.


Burglary incidents and arrests have steadily dropped each year, by as much as 30 percent since 2012. Authorities credit home video with helping put burglars behind bars before their victims multiply.

A new Georgia law also passed in 2012 increased the prison time for burglars who break into a home rather than a business. That's Question 20 – 60 percent of the inmates we surveyed think that new law will lead to fewer residential burglaries.

“I just think it's more serious," warned Joy. "Like, you're coming into somebody's house and you know what I'm saying? It's somebody's family.”

You can see the entire 20 Question Survey by clicking on the slideshow.